As you’ll notice in today’s newspaper, El Defensor Chieftain won a few awards at this year’s New Mexico Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest in Albuquerque this past weekend.
Of course, winning a few awards honoring our journalistic talents is nice, but it’s our readers who matter most.
John Larson and I talked a great deal about this during our travels to and from the convention. Yes, the awards are certainly good for one’s ego – but it’s not what matters to us.
It’s about the communities we serve. It’s about finding those stories that make a difference or celebrate one’s achievements are the ones that make a difference. Whether it’s someone’s 100th birthday or someone raising cane at a local government meeting, we want to make certain we tell the story in a way our readers understand.
The day in the life of a newspaper person is hard to describe. Sometimes we work 24/7. Other days we write stories all day long from the events we covered the night before. There are days we skip lunch to make the deadlines.
Sometimes we have to dig for the truth to report information accurately. And that’s difficult when you get a door slammed in your face or someone slams the phone down ending the conversation.
But then again, there’s somebody willing to tell you encouraging stories of community members and those who call or stop you to thank you for the wonderful job you’re doing with the newspaper.
Somedays, it feels as we meet ourselves coming and going. We put in hours of work on a story, only to cut some of it to fit on a page of our weekly newspaper. Or we spend hours upon hours at the local county fair taking photos to put the fair results special section together. It raises our spirits when we receive a letter from the local Fair Board thanking us for our efforts.
Yes, we take criticism from our readers and admit our mistakes when things go array. Trust me … things happen when you least expect it.
And sometimes, we have to drop everything to talk to the customer coming in to buy the newspaper. That’s OK because we love talking to our readers … probably a bit too much at times.
We spend our nights covering and traveling to meetings as well as covering local sports teams. By the time we get home, we pray there is something in the fridge or in the freezer to eat and that our beloved pets remember who we are.
Although our news staff wasn’t born and raised in Socorro County, we share strong ties to the communities we serve.
We’ll smile when someone says they have a news story to share … we’ll respond, we’ll make room for it.
Community newspapers, like El Defensor Chieftain, have the power to bring about great good and make a profound difference.
I have been in this crazy business for almost 40 years now, at the daily, bi-weekly and weekly levels, and been blessed to receive a few accolades along the way. But the greatest simple compliment I can receive is from our readers telling me how much they enjoy reading the newspaper.
And that, in a nutshell, is the secret to the continued success of your local hometown newspaper.